The Prince of Wales will on Monday warn of the looming environmental crisis which will “dwarf” the damage wrought by coronavirus, as he says the world risks missing the opportunity to “reset”.
The Prince, who will deliver the opening speech at Climate Week 2020, is to say the global pandemic is a “wake-up call we cannot ignore”.
In a message recorded at his Scottish home of Birkhall and delivered online, he warns “swift and immediate action” must now take place, with the Covid-19 pandemic providing a “window of opportunity” to change the world for the better.
He will join leaders and environmental campaigners for Climate Week, which takes place annually alongside the United Nations General Assembly.
The Prince recently launched a “Great Reset” project at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum, calling on business and political leaders to ensure that global economies are rebuilt with the balance of nature at their centre.
In a key note speech to be delivered virtually at 3pm on Monday, the Prince will say: “Without swift and immediate action, at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to ‘reset’ for … a more sustainable and inclusive future.
“In other words, the global pandemic is a wake-up call we cannot ignore.
“[The environmental] crisis has been with us for far too many years – decried, denigrated and denied.
“It is now rapidly becoming a comprehensive catastrophe that will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Prince, 71, who tested positive for coronavirus in March, has previously urged members of the Commonwealth to come together to tackle climate change.
In June, he spoke at a virtual meeting of the 54 UN Commonwealth Ambassadors about The Great Reset, telling them: “In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we have an unparalleled opportunity to reimagine our future.
“This opportunity is an historic and precious one. As we begin to move from crisis to recovery, we have the chance to determine and shape the world we want, not just for ourselves but for the generations which follow.”
The Prince’s concern for the environment has been echoed by other members of the Royal Family.
Next month, the Duke of Cambridge will join 50 “leading thinkers and doers” to speak in a session at TEDx Countdown, to discuss climate change, regeneration and protecting nature.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Duke launched the Earthshot Prize, a multimillion-pound award to find positive solutions to the “world’s greatest problems by 2030”.
Last month, a study led by the University of Leeds suggested the global lockdown will have a “negligible” impact on rising temperatures but a green recovery could avert dangerous climate change.
While lockdowns caused a fall in transport use and greenhouse gases and pollutants caused by vehicles and industrial activities, it found, the impact is only short-lived.
Analysis showed that even if some measures last until the end of 2021, global temperatures will only be 0.01C lower than expected by 2030 without further action.